Out at 8 a.m. in the sunshine ran to Watermeads Park and around a few of the lakes – mostly because I got lost. Total time 44 minutes, total distance unknown.
I am not a natural athlete. Not for me a gazelle-like floating across the ground. My running gait has a more rustic look about it, at once expressing purposefulness and much pain.
As I plod painfully along, lungs on fire and lack of blood to the brain causing tunnel vision to impinge on my view ahead, one has the impression that one must be going quite quickly. Sadly, this is not actually the case.
This morning as I approached the entrance to Watermeads Park an old decrepit old lady hove into view. She was dressed head to toe in lycra and jogging along the path ahead of me. She had the most unusual gait. Taking tiny steps with a stride of about 6 inches and slightly lurching to one side. My immediate impression was that perhaps she had suffered a stroke at some point and I prayed “God bless her” and had warm feelings towards her for her courage and never-say-die spirit. At least she’s still out there, still running. She might not be going fast but still she’s going! Good for her!
I thought “I’ll just speed around her” only to discover that I was almost unable to catch her. Which meant that this ancient, decrepit, stroke-survivor with a 6 inch stride pattern was actually running at about the same speed as me.
Shocked to my core I put a spurt on and gradually, painfully slowly, I drew level.
As I passed her I noticed that she had the look of a well-preserved Egyptian mummy and must have been well into her 70s, which further rubbed salt into the open wound of my self-regard.
As I passed her I did what runners always do on passing another runner. You lift up your head, throw your chest out, slow you wracking respiration and lift up your knees so you are prancing like a demented springbok. As you pass them you throw out a cheery “Good fun isn’t it! A ha!”.
Of course the down side of this most obvious deception and one-upmanship is that you are bound to keep it up until you get out of sight. Which when your speed differential is only in the third decimal place, takes some time.
I struggled manfully on, heart bursting in my chest, lungs a-fire and legs screaming in agony, desperate for the next bend in the road. Finally, as my tunnel vision reduced to a pin prick I saw the Shangri-La of a corner ahead, managed to make it around it before experiencing total physical collapse.
As I criss-crossed Watermeads getting lost and rather annoyed in the process, I happened to pass Decrepit Woman several times. Indeed at one point she was behind me. It felt rather like one of those zombie horror films when these creatures who are only capable of the most painfully difficult shuffle, yet somehow seem to be able to keep pace with you, and even catch up with you, no matter how fast you run.
I was starting to get a bit panicky and was almost about to grab a stick and drive it through her unbeating heart, crying “Die foul creature of the night!” When suddenly she disappeared. Spooky or what?
After the run I definitely got the endorphin kick – sadly the effect was mitigated by a companion feeling of sheer total exhaustion.
Fit yet? Not fooling anybody!